The Gender Pay gap in PR – why our industry must lead change

Mind the Gap the gender pay gap in public relations

I envisaged that my first Conversation post would be related to digital or social media.

Today, I was developing a training workshop on data visualisation, using public data to test out some tools. I found a brilliant piece of data journalism by Simon Rogers on Guardian.com from 2012 and played around with the exported data. The source was the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings from the Office of National Statistics.

It shows salary data for 1300 graded UK professions.

Take a look yourself. Here’s a short summary of the size of the gender pay gap problem in the UK:

  • 1300 jobs are categorised in the UK. Women earn less than men in 1184 of them.
  • Men earn over >10% more than women in 804 of the 1300 professions.
  • Women earn >10% more than men in 35 professions.
  • The professions where women earn between 27% – 10% more than men are ‘Elementary personal services occupations n.e.c’ (no, me either!), Conference and Exhibition Managers, Authors/Writers, Car Park Attendants and Medical Secretaries, Security Guards, Fitness Instructors and Senior Prison Officers.
  • Male Corporate Managers and Marketing/Sales professionals earn an average of 24.5% more than their female counterparts.
  • Male metalmaking operatives earn 51.4% more than their female counterparts.

The latest CIPR State of the Profession survey (pub. February 2014) revealed an average gender pay gap of over £12,000 in favour of men.

The results also exposed that from Account Manager/Press Officer level and above – men, on average, are being paid more than women, even when doing the same job.

It’s 2014! This is completely unacceptable!

We have to take a stand on gender pay imbalance, not just in communications and PR, but across all industries. The data I’ve been looking at in disbelief today, shows just how important it is that change happens…NOW.

As professional communicators, we have the skills to lead the way for other sectors where pay gaps exist by focusing on education, transformation and collaboration. By showing them that a fair and equitable organisation operates effectively, is flexible, responsible and profitable. Change happens when you actually do something! Then change creates further change.

So, what can we do?

I’m one of the many CIPR members involved in thinking about practical solutions. I have no doubt that momentum will be maintained and positive steps to turn things around quickly will be made by the CIPR under Stephen Waddington’s stewardship, with support from members who care about equality and meritocracy.

In the short term, the CIPR have launched a survey to better understand why the gender pay gap exists in public relations and what the CIPR can do help to change things. Please take the survey. Share the survey. Care about the results and make a commitment to make a difference in your organisation.

In the longer term, we must not use the excuse that “we’re not the only industry with a problem. It’s a bigger picture thing…” and go about fixing it rather than talking about it.

We need to challenge the status quo from top-down and bottom-up. Who is up for making a difference?

Michelle Goodall specialises in digital communications and social media. Formerly Digital Director at Lexis Public Relations she has over 15 years’ online communications and social media consultancy experience. She is a regular industry speaker, a CIPR Social Media Panel member, social media lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, trainer/consultant for Econsultancy and the Digital Marketing Institute. Michelle has worked on social business transformation projects and developed social media strategies. Clients, past and present span many industries and include BBC, Penguin Random House, London2012, Econsultancy, Camelot, Macmillan and Diageo. Career highlights include working with London2012’s digital, editorial and communications teams from post bid and becoming part of the award-winning social media/communications team during the games.

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